AFP Arrest Suspects Who Laundered $4.7M through Pokies Venue
- Three people arrested for running scam on a pokies venue in Melbourne
- The suspects laundered $4.7 million by buying winning cheques from patrons at a Springvale pokies venue
- The VGCCC warned gambling operators that the agency is watching them closely
Australian Federal Police (AFP) have arrested three individuals who are allegedly part of a Melbourne crime syndicate that laundered millions of dollars in illicit money by buying winnings from punters.
The money laundering activity took place at a pokies venue in Springvale where winning cheques from electronic slot machines were exchanged for cash. The gaming venue would then issue the cheques in the name of a syndicate member. The criminals would later deposit the funds into a bank and declare them as legitimate gambling winnings. They were allegedly able to launder $4.7 million in illicit cash through the scheme.
Authorities raided the venue, alongside a home in Noble Park and another in Springvale South which resulted in the arrests of a 63-year-old man and two women aged 49 and 61. The raids yielded over $170,000 in cash and gold bullions. The three suspects could face 20 years in prison for money laundering charges.
The arrests were made following a 12-month investigation by the Australian Federal Police, assisted by the Victorian Gambling & Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), National Australia Bank and AUSTRAC.
The probe centered on the Springvale gaming venue which was discovered to have issued an unusually high number of cheques since November 2021, with the majority of the cheques issued to select customers suspected to be involved in the illegal scheme. The practice continued up to June 2022.
Warning for Gaming Venues in Australia
Acting Assistant Commissioner with the Australian Federal Police Raegan Stewart said gaming venues should not deliberately ignore or tolerate criminal activity and must be aware that their establishments are a significant risk for money laundering activities.
The VGCCC is currently investigating whether the venue and its staff had breached the state’s gambling laws. If found guilty, the venue could be fined or have its license revoked.
The VGCCC conducted its own covert operations and spent ample time reviewing data and footage, according to CEO Annette Kimmitt. She said the latest money-laundering bust involving a gaming venue should serve as a warning to other gambling operators across Australia. Kimmitt said they will continue to watch the gambling industry closely and cooperate with relevant agencies to crack down on criminal activity.